Like so many others in this sport, Dave Wong decided to build himself an exceptional trail rig because he was "sucked in by the adrenaline rush of rockcrawling." It took him three long years and endless hours of design work and fabrication, but the product of his labor is a bulletproof rockcrawler that is capable of withstanding just about any punishment Dave applies to it.
The truck began life as a stock '85 4Runner, but Wong quickly went to work on the custom modifications. For axles, he went with a Detroit-equipped Toyota IFS 8-inch unit in back and another Toyota 8-inch in front that is outfitted with an FJ-80 high-pinion third member and an ARB locker. Capping the corners are 38.50x14.50R15 Super Swamper TSL SX tires mounted on 15x10-inch Eagle alloy rims with OMF bead locks.
To achieve the kind of ride and articulation Wong was looking for, Dave's Offroad Outlet designed a custom suspension that consists of BDS 6-inch custom leaf spring packs up front and a four-link setup in the rear that uses custom coils from Valley Spring Works. A combination of Rancho RS9000 shocks up front and Doetsch aluminum dampers in back keep everything under control.
Looking for the proper motivation to keep his Toyota moving down the trail, Dave made the decision to pull a 5.7L LS1 V-8 out of a '99 Pontiac Trans Am, along with the 4L60E automatic tranny, and drop the combination into his rapidly evolving machine. While it was a great idea, once he and the boys at Dave's Offroad started, they realized the motor wasn't going to fit the way they'd thought. Two weeks later, they'd cut four holes in the firewall, channeled the frame, and moved the radiator forward to allow the entire package to sit correctly.
While under the hood, they installed a custom intake, a Flowmaster muffler with a custom exhaust, a Howe aluminum radiator with Flex-a-lite dual 12-inch electric fans, and had Fuel Injection Specialties reprogram the computer. For proper fuel delivery, Wong retained the stock tank but equipped it with a '97 Chevy truck fuel pump. The motor now dynos at 320 hp and 345 lb-ft of torque. Providing the super-low crawl ratio this kind of trail rig demands is a Marlin Crawler dual-case setup and 5.29 differential gears, which, combined, produce a final drive ratio of 166:1.
For better clearance, as well as better departure angles out on the trail, Dave and his crew at the Offroad Outlet bobbed the frame and bed 14 inches. Then they cut out the rear fenderwell and installed Fabtech fiberglass fenders up front. In the midst of all the bodywork, they also went ahead and did the half doors, which come complete with cup holders.
To provide trail protection where it's most essential, Dave's Offroad Outlet designed and built the tubular front and rear bumpers, installed a set of extreme rocker guards from All Pro, and had local welder Chris Totter build the tranny crossmember and skidplate.
Finally turning to the interior of the truck, Dave kept things simple. In the cab, he installed a set of bucket seats out of a '93 4Runner and pulled the stock steering wheel in favor of a Grant. In back, there now resides a custom tool box that's built into the floor of the bed, all of which is covered by a Can-Back soft top.
For better trailability, Dave wrapped things up with some details that make the truck at home off-road. Between the framerails, he installed an ARB compressor and a Viair 450 compressor that feed a 3-gallon tank, which is accessed via an outlet in the rear passenger fenderwell. To keep track of air pressure, he installed a special Sun Performance gauge in the cab. For better night 'wheeling, Dave installed a series of rock lights so he can see what he's tackling, even on the darkest trail.
Layered in coats of PPG Omaha Orange, this Toyota is an exceptional rig that is certain to be seen on the trail for years to come.
Owner/hometown: Dave Wong/Sonora, California
Year/make/model: '85 Toyota 4Runner
Engine: '99 5.7L LS1 V-8
Transmission: '99 4L60E
Transfer case: Marlin Crawler dual case
Frontend: Toyota 8-inch with FJ-80 third member
Rearend: Toyota IFS 8-inch
Suspension: 6-inch leaf springs (front); custom four-link (rear)
Wheels/tires: 38.50x14.50R15 Super Swamper TSL SXs/15x10-inch Eagle alloys with OMF bead locks